Can Stepparents Have Visitation Rights?
It is not uncommon for stepparents to become close with their stepchildren. But what rights do they have in a Pearland divorce?
When you get married, your spouse may have children from a previous relationship. As a stepparent, you may become close to these children, even though they are not blood relatives. Let’s say that several years later, you and your spouse get divorced. What happens now? As a stepparent, what rights do you have when it comes to child custody and visitation?
You may have developed a strong bond with the child, but what does the law say? The rights and duties of parents are outlined in the state’s family code, but there is nothing about stepparent visitation rights. That is because Texas does not legally allow stepparents to have automatic rights to visitation. Instead, stepparents are treated as interested third parents, similar to grandparents.
As a stepparent, you do have the right to petition the court for visitation rights. This does not necessarily mean you will get approved for visitation, though. Since you are simply considered a third party, you will need to get permission from the biological parents. They can fight your request. In the court’s eyes, they have the upper hand and can therefore make the final decision.
While you cannot control the biological parents’ decision, there are some things that may work in your favor. Of course, having a good relationship with the child is most important. If you get along well with the child and you both enjoy spending time together, that will certainly help your case. So will showing that you have financially supported the child during the marriage.
If you get approval from the biological parents, the court should grant your petition and create a visitation schedule. This will be based on the child’s best interests.
As a stepparent, your first step in requesting visitation rights after a divorce is to discuss the situation with the child’s custodial parent. You may be able to work together to create a visitation schedule.
If not, then you will need to petition the court for visitation. There are three steps:
- Create a petition. The petition should include your proposed visitation schedule. It should also meet state requirements.
- File the petition. Once complete, the petition should be filed with your court clerk.
- Attend a hearing. A hearing will be scheduled. At this hearing, the judge will review your petition and determine whether visitation with the stepchild should be granted.
You have the best chances for success by contacting a family law attorney who can assess your situation and help you fill out the petition thoroughly and accurately. Obtaining access to the child can be challenging, but it is possible.
Contact a Pearland Family Law Attorney
Texas does not automatically allow for stepparent visitation, but if you have a good relationship with the child and biological parents, getting a petition approved will allow you to continue your relationship with the stepchild.